Chinese President Xi Jinping presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with his country's "highest honor" on Friday: A friendship medal to recognize Russia's work to help maintain world peace and assist in modernization.
You can't make this stuff up.
Is this a stunt?
Yes. But it's certainly more than that, too.
While China continues its trade negotiations with the United States, this photo opportunity isn't being dismissed as insincere, but certainly shows a reinforcement of the relationship between the two chummy neighbors internationally. A renewal of vows, if you will.
President Xi said, "This medal of friendship represents the Chinese people's lofty respect for President Putin, and symbolizes the profound friendship between China and Russia."
This public display of affection could also give Russia more credibility on the world stage.
An expert on China-Russia relations at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Alexander Gabuev, said, "Russia increasingly plays on team China as a junior partner," but he added that "Russia is punching above its weight in geopolitics and doing things that the Chinese are not capable or daring enough to do.
Is there more to it?
Of course there is. Would I waste your precious time?
During Putin's visit, the two countries penned a number of deals to work in coordination with both foreign policy and security initiatives. The Russian president said, "Cooperation with China is one of Russia's top priorities and it has reached an unprecedented level."
He added, "I haven't established this kind of relationship or made similar arrangements with my foreign colleagues, but I have with Chairman Xi." Hmm. You don't say?
In a sense, Xi and Putin are two peas in a pod, particularly considering Xi was recently able to remove presidential term limits in China — which is another thing these two lovebirds now have in common.
Addressing Putin directly, Xi said, "Together we've ensured that Sino-Russian relations have withstood the test of global uncertainty and arrived at their best point in history."
One more touching moment in this bromance: Putin says in the following video leading up to his visit that Xi is the "Only world leader I celebrate my birthday with." Absolutely adorable, isn't it?